Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that infect animals and people. In February, the W.H.O. gave official names to both this virus (SARS-CoV-2, for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and the disease it causes (Covid-19, for coronavirus disease 2019).
You may have heard it called the “new” or “novel” coronavirus, and those mean just what they sound like: that it’s new.
How does it spread? It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out.